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Weekly Farm Recap 6/10-16: Ravelo rakes his way to St. Louis

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Rangel Ravelo’s best offensive season yet has earned him his first major league call-up.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at St. Louis Cardinals Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the weekly farm recap. We’ve seen the start of some of the short-season affiliates like the State College Spikes, and those will be included in these write-ups in the coming weeks when there’s a week’s worth of games under their belt.

You can read this week’s daily farm reports from Andrew St. John and Austin Ward at the previous links.

Memphis Redbirds

Past week: (2-4) | Overall: (29-41)

Division: 3rd, 9 GB

The Redbirds lost the first game of the week to the Reno Aces (29-40), splitting the four-game series. They then returned to Memphis where they took two of three from the Salt Lake Bees (31-37) and lost the first two against the Las Vegas Aviators (38-32) over the weekend.

The gap grew once again between the Redbirds and the division-leading Iowa Cubs (38-32), who are now nine games ahead of Memphis in the PCL American Northern division.

The Redbirds will play two more games against the Aviators before heading to Oklahoma City for a five-game series with the OKC Dodgers (28-40).

Hitter of the Week: Rangel Ravelo, 1B/COF

Stats: 5 G, 20 AB, 8 R, 10 H, 3 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K

Ravelo has dominated this position over the past weeks, but he won’t be here next week at the least.

The 27-year-old first baseman and outfielder earned his first trip to the majors when the Cardinals selected his contract last night.

Ravelo has been good across all three seasons in Memphis, but this season has been exceptionally solid. He’s hitting .333/.414/.543 over 249 PA, with 139 wRC+.

That .543 slugging percentage is the highest Ravelo has posted at any level with 200+ PA. The same goes for his .414 OBP. And his .333 average.

Really, he’s having his best offensive season yet.

Pitcher of the Week: Tommy Layne, LHP

Stats: 3 G, 3.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K

Tommy Layne is far removed from being a prospect, at 34 years old and having major league experience with three teams. But he put up the best performance for Memphis this week, with three scoreless, hitless appearances.

It was a week that didn’t match the overall look of Layne’s 2019. After pitching to a 1.35 ERA with a 30.4% K% in 26.2 innings with Memphis at the end of last season, Layne was looking like a nice depth piece for the bullpen. His 2019 ERA is 5.91 across 32 innings.

Last season, Layne’s K-BB% was 26.8%. It’s fallen to just 14% this year, due to both variables in that equation getting worse.

Probably the most frightening figure of Layne’s line is a HR/9 of 2.25. Layne’s fly ball percentage is 37.4%, much higher than his career average. Combine that with a HR/FB rate of 23.5% and you have a pitcher who’s given up a home run every four innings.

Springfield Cardinals

Past week: (5-1) | Overall: (24-39)

Division: 4th (last), eliminated (15 GB)

The Texas League North is already decided, with the Arkansas Travelers (43-24) even 7.5 games ahead of the second-place Tulsa Drillers (36-32). But the Springfield Cardinals played well this week, losing one of their six games.

They opened a homestand by taking two of three from the Midland RockHounds (34-34), who are first in the Texas League South, and then swept the Corpus Christi Hooks (32-36), eliminating them from a close race in that division.

Springfield will get the chance to play spoiler once again, as they’ll place the same teams this week on the road.

Hitter of the Week: Chris Chinea, 1B/C

Stats: 5 G, 19 AB, 2 R, 6 H, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K

Chinea spent all of 2018 at Double-A but struggled to put it together, with 81 wRC+.

Though he had 14 home runs and 12 doubles, a .269 OBP held Chinea down offensively across his 316 PA.

This season has been much better. He has 118 wRC+ across 193 PA with Springfield. The 25-year-old first baseman has been able to get on base more at a healthier rate of .326. His slugging percentage has gone from .411 to .489, in part because of an increased XBH output but also due just to putting the ball in play successfully much more often.

Chinea has nine home runs, nine doubles and a triple at this point in the season. If the season ended today, his .815 OPS would be the highest he’s posted since his first professional appearance in rookie ball in 2015.

Pitcher of the Week: Austin Warner, LHP

Stats: 2 G, 2 GS, 12.2 IP, 12 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 16 K, 2 WP

The pitching for Springfield was not pretty this week, but Warner did an excellent job in his two starts.

The gem was his outing on Tuesday, when he pitched six innings of one-hit ball, striking out 10 and walking one.

The left-hander, who will turn 25 this month, saw an extremely aggressive promotion path last season when he started the year with Palm Beach and ended in Memphis. Warner averaged just over five innings an appearance and pitched to a 4.33 ERA and 6.12 FIP in seven starts as a Redbird.

He started this season back in Springfield, where he’s pitched pretty well on a struggling team. He’s pitched 76 innings across 13 starts, with a 3.77/3.87 ERA/FIP.

A very nice change has been the return of strikeouts. Warner struck out between 25-27% of batters he faced before making his way to Double-A and Triple-A last season, falling off into the teens and seeing his walk rate climb a bit. The walk rate still sits at 7.4%, but his strikeout rate in 2019 is back up to 24.9%.

Palm Beach Cardinals

Past week: (1-2) | First-half finish: (35-29)

First-half standings: 2nd, 3 GB

Palm Beach fell short in the end as a late surge from the Fort Myers Miracle (39-27) knocked the PB Cards out of first place to end the first half of the season.

The FSL All-Star Game was held this week, and Palm Beach had six players make the squad:

  • Julio Rodriguez, C
  • Justin Toerner, OF
  • Bryan Dobzanski, RP
  • Perry DellaValle, SP
  • Alex Fagalde, SP
  • Angel Rodon, RP

Toerner and Rodon didn’t participate due to promotions. Rodriguez started the game at catcher but struck out in his one plate appearance. DellaValle pitched a perfect third inning.

Palm Beach will open the second half of the season today with three games against the Jupiter Hammerheads, then head to Dunedin for a four-game set against the Blue Jays.

Hitter of the Half: Justin Toerner, OF

Stats: 236 PA, .290/.403/.389, 14% BB, 21.2% K, 39 R, 29 RBI, 5 2B, 3B, 4 HR, 4 SB, 141 wRC+

Toerner is no longer in Palm Beach, as he earned a promotion to Springfield last week his performance in the Florida State League’s first half. At the end of the half, Toerner sat 7th in wRC+ in the FSL and 11th in all of High-A.

There wasn’t a ton of power in Toerner’s performance, but that very well could’ve been from the environment he played in. Toerner was a 28th-rounder in 2018, hitting his way from Low-A up to High-A across 273 PA last year.

Toerner has gotten off to a rough start at Double-A, but an adjustment period is to be expected. The 22-year-old outfielder was excellent as a PB Cardinal.

Pitcher of the Half: Edgar Gonzalez, RHP

Stats: 13 G, 12 GS, 64 IP, 10.83 K/9, 3.09 BB/9, 3.23 ERA/2.48 FIP/2.64 xFIP

Gonzalez probably won’t be on the Palm Beach lists anymore. Like, Toerner, his first half performance earned him a promotion. The 22-year-old righty vaulted Double-A and earned a promotion straight to Memphis.

Gonzalez was a 6th-round pick in the 2018 draft, meaning this is his first full professional season. He’s now pitching out of the bullpen for the Redbirds. He was averaging just under 5.1 innings per start at Palm Beach. He’s already made his first appearance for Memphis, pitching 1.2 scoreless innings in relief.

Peoria Chiefs

Past week: (3-4) | Overall: (30-39)

Divison: 7th, eliminated (14.5 GB)

The first half of the Midwest League season ended yesterday, and the Chiefs finished near the bottom. They finished the half losing a three-game set to the Clinton LumberKings (33-36) and taking two of three from the Burlington Bees (39-31).

The second half will open on Thursday with a four-game series against the Cedar Rapids Kernels, who clinched a playoff spot with their 39-31 performance in the first half.

Hitter of the Half: Nolan Gorman, 3B

Stats: 282 PA, .241/.344/.448, 11.3% BB, 28% K, 41 R, 41 RBI, 14 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 2 SB, 126 wRC+

Who else?

That’s actually not too appropriate here, as Brady Whalen came pretty close to topping Gorman’s performance. But the 19-year-old third baseman takes the honors for the Chiefs.

Gorman ranked 20th in wRC+ in the Midwest League over the first half. He’s now logged nearly 180 more PA at Peoria than he did at the end of last season with the Chiefs and has seen his strikeout rate drop by 8.4%, walk rate increase by 2% and his OPS go up by .086.

Gorman went from hitting .202 last year to .241 now. His OBP increased by 64 points, up to .364 from .280. He’s made obvious improvements and adjusted very well to the talent level.

Pitcher of the Half: Alvaro Seijas, RHP

Stats: 12 G, 12 GS, 67.1 IP, 8.02 K/9, 3.21 BB/9, 3.07 ERA/4.04 FIP/3.97 xFIP

Seijas is in his second year with Peoria but he’s made great strides in improving his game between the two seasons. And at 20 years old, he has plenty of time to keep climbing.

The right-hander had an ERA of 4.52 and FIP of 5.21 through 129.1 innings with the Chiefs last season. He’s dropped both of those by more than a run.

His command has shown extreme improvement. Seijas had a K% of 14.6 and BB% of 10.6% last season. Those numbers are now 21% and 8.4%, respectively.

An increase of 8.6% on a pitcher’s K-BB% is pretty noticeable. To use the raw numbers, Seijas now has 60 strikeouts and 24 walks through 67.1 innings in 2019. In 2018, he had 84 strikeouts and 61 walks in 129.1 IP.